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Birth of a Festival: 4 Sloss Takeaways

Originally posted via Do615

Beneath the blazing Birmingham sun, a festival was born. Over the course of two days at Sloss Furnaces, 33 bands performed on three stages.

The venue is a former pig iron-producing blast furnace (1882-1971) and is said to be haunted. Previously unfamiliar with the area, I wasn’t expecting old furnaces to be such a kickass location for a festival.

1. Ain’t nothin’ like a hometown show

  St. Paul frontman shaking his groovethang in 100 degree heat.

St. Paul frontman shaking his groovethang in 100 degree heat.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones stormed the stage on the sweltering Sunday evening in their Blues Brothers suits and packed some serious energy onto the Blast Stage. The Birmingham natives treated their audience to soulful sonic perfection and danced around with abandon.

2. The crowd was nice — super nice

I didn’t run into a single jerk this past weekend. Sloss attendees were extremely friendly to the point where several people genuinely apologize to me when I was making my way through the crowd as if they had been in my way. Talk about southern hospitality.

3. Zella Day creates a special experience

  Zella puts on an epic show.

Zella puts on an epic show.

When the Hypnotic songstress took the mic on Sunday afternoon, the vibe at the Shed Stage was electric. The shed was jam packed with an equal mix of guys and gals dancing and singing with Ms. Day. It was a mark of my determination and the crowd’s friendliness that I was able to find my way through the dense crowd and back to the front after leaving the photo pit.

Her emotional rendition of Jameson brought tears to my eyes.

P.S. Check out my pre-Sloss interview with Zella Day here.

4. Festival launch with a bang and lessons learned

With a first year festival, you expect some hiccups and disappointments. On the whole, Sloss absolutely nailed it. The festival ran smoothly with good acoustics, seamless parking, art vendors, and a layout conducive to making it to your set on time. The venue was unique and had a solid pavement to grass ratio.

  Iron pouring for custom keepsakes

Iron pouring for custom keepsakes

Room for Improvement: More water stations. I saw two places to fill up water bottles and the lines were usually long.

You’re probably thinking “grab a Camelbak, you festival noob.” I didn’t bring my Camelbak because I was lucky enough to have a photo pass which meant hustling from one set to the next with 7 pounds of expensive camera equipment in tow. A little dehydration is a worthy tradeoff for being a few feet from the performers in the photo pit. However, another hydration station would be a welcome addition for 2016.

Red Mountain Entertainment (one of three organizers behind the festival) has already stated that Sloss Fest will return in 2016. Can’t wait for round two!

Click here to check out the rest of my photos from Sloss

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Do615ive Questions: Sloss Fest Artist Zella Day

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Do615ive Questions: Sloss Fest Artist Zella Day

As part of my job for Do615, I was lucky enough to catch up with Zella Day ahead of her performance at Sloss Music & Arts Festival. Cannot wait to see her hit the stage this weekend!

Zella Day has taken the 2015 festival season by storm. Born in a small Arizona town, the Hypnotic songstress started wooing crowds at the age of 9 in her local coffee shop. Now at 20, Zella is creating her dream in the unforgiving landscape of L.A...

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL INTERVIEW

 


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Lady Gaga's Expensive Hooker Perfume

This review of Lady Gaga's Fame perfume first appeared on Girlish Writings - a dope lifestyle site dedicated to fashion, creativity, and living outloud.

The Fragrance: Expensive Hooker? Maybe.

My initial reaction to Lady Gaga’s “Fame” perfume was slight disappointment due to my mounting anticipation since I first heard that Mother Monster was coming out with a fragrance. But still, my senses were intrigued and the scent, though not quite ‘hooker’ was still delicious. I liked the fragrance more and more as I walked around Sephora, frequently smelling, my wrist, struggling to take it all in. Okay, this could be what a high-class hooker might smell like. An expensive escort. Intriguing, sexy, demure, classy- you even have to chase it a little bit.

I couldn’t pin point the changes in the notes I was smelling as you are supposed to be able to do, however, I did notice the increasingly intoxicating nature of the fragrance, almost as if it were induced with pheromones (which, unfortunately it is not- no blood or semen, as originally promised). And yet, there was still something very commercial about it, unlike what I had expected from Gaga. But that notion itself is perfect.

Lady Gaga consistently subverts expectations. My Art History professor once said: “Lady Gaga will never fall into the Madonna trap- people don’t expect a sex object- they don’t know what to expect. If people can never see you- they can never place you- they can never own you.”

This notion applies to both the scent and the unique purpley-black to clear appearance of the liquid- she wouldn’t just do a fragrance. It had to be bold. She would not sign a contract with fragrance giant, Coty, until they could produce the necessary technology. In fact, once it was done, everybody thought it smelled so good they wanted to make it clear so that they wouldn’t have to explain to people that it wouldn’t stain their clothes. Gaga said “No, The fragrance is called Fame; it must be black. It must smell enticing. You must want to lick and touch and feel it, but the look of it must terrify you.” (Vogue, September 2012, Pg 803).

She had initially stated that her perfume would contain traces of bodily fluids- semen and essences of her blood. If I had to guess, these ideas were shot down and a black eau de parfum was the compromise. To me, this runs parallel to her music.

Her debut album of the same name was a little different than the commercial norm (in 2008, dance music was not frequenting the radio) but still she played it somewhat pop-safe with Fame. After she became one of the best selling artists ever, she was allowed to run closer to the edge with the Fame Monster and leapt into an electro-rock infused pop concoction with Born This Way. By playing the game, she was eventually given free reign to do as she pleased, showcasing her impressive vocal range and further pushing boundaries with her follow-on albums.

Perhaps she will follow a similar pattern with her perfume ventures. Fame the fragrance almost makes perfect sense- it’s alluring yet commercial and fades away somewhat quickly (as can real fame). Maybe, once Fame inevitably breaks sales records, she will come out with a Fame Monster fragrance that incorporates bodily fluids and has a crazier, darker scent, more reminiscent of the true Gaga. This Little Monster can dream.

The Campaign: Fabulous Performance Art and High Fashion Theatrics

Fitting with the concept of ‘fame,’ the campaign-palooza (a 7 figure commercial, a masquerade ball at the Guggenheim, and grand openings at Sephoras worldwide) is bigger than the reason for the campaign: a unique but simple fragrance. The hype and glitz surrounding a celebrity often sparkles brighter than the actual human being themselves.

Even the sexy twist when she is kissing two blind folded men can not detract from the very creepy nature of the short film, complete with horror movie-esque screams.  Scenes of a black liquid form of Gaga malfunctioning are shown in conjunction with three different Gagas aiming and shooting a gun, seemingly at herself. This is a nod to fame culture and the self destruction of many celebrities. As things shatter and fade to black, viewers are presented with a larger than life nude Lady Gaga with men crawling aggressively across her body and ghostly chanting of “Gaga” echoing through the shot. The chanting ends with the Lady herself chanting “Gaga.” The message is clear: when you’re famous, everybody wants a piece of you and you can either be an active participant in the fame, or you can watch yourself destruct.

  Lady Gaga arriving at a Sephora in Paris

Lady Gaga arriving at a Sephora in Paris

Perhaps she will follow a similar pattern with her perfume ventures. Fame the fragrance almost makes perfect sense- it’s alluring yet commercial and fades away somewhat quickly (as can real fame). Maybe, once Fame inevitably breaks sales records, she will come out with a Fame Monster fragrance that incorporates bodily fluids and has a crazier, darker scent, more reminiscent of the true Gaga. This Little Monster can dream.

The Campaign: Fabulous Performance Art and High Fashion Theatrics

Fitting with the concept of ‘fame,’ the campaign-palooza (a 7 figure commercial, a masquerade ball at the Guggenheim, and grand openings at Sephoras worldwide) is bigger than the reason for the campaign: a unique but simple fragrance. The hype and glitz surrounding a celebrity often sparkles brighter than the actual human being themselves.

Even the sexy twist when she is kissing two blind folded men can not detract from the very creepy nature of the short film, complete with horror movie-esque screams.  Scenes of a black liquid form of Gaga malfunctioning are shown in conjunction with three different Gagas aiming and shooting a gun, seemingly at herself. This is a nod to fame culture and the self destruction of many celebrities. As things shatter and fade to black, viewers are presented with a larger than life nude Lady Gaga with men crawling aggressively across her body and ghostly chanting of “Gaga” echoing through the shot. The chanting ends with the Lady herself chanting “Gaga.” The message is clear: when you’re famous, everybody wants a piece of you and you can either be an active participant in the fame, or you can watch yourself destruct.

Perhaps she will follow a similar pattern with her perfume ventures. Fame the fragrance almost makes perfect sense- it’s alluring yet commercial and fades away somewhat quickly (as can real fame). Maybe, once Fame inevitably breaks sales records, she will come out with a Fame Monster fragrance that incorporates bodily fluids and has a crazier, darker scent, more reminiscent of the true Gaga. This Little Monster can dream.

The Campaign: Fabulous Performance Art and High Fashion Theatrics

Fitting with the concept of ‘fame,’ the campaign-palooza (a 7 figure commercial, a masquerade ball at the Guggenheim, and grand openings at Sephoras worldwide) is bigger than the reason for the campaign: a unique but simple fragrance. The hype and glitz surrounding a celebrity often sparkles brighter than the actual human being themselves.

Even the sexy twist when she is kissing two blind folded men can not detract from the very creepy nature of the short film, complete with horror movie-esque screams.  Scenes of a black liquid form of Gaga malfunctioning are shown in conjunction with three different Gagas aiming and shooting a gun, seemingly at herself. This is a nod to fame culture and the self destruction of many celebrities. As things shatter and fade to black, viewers are presented with a larger than life nude Lady Gaga with men crawling aggressively across her body and ghostly chanting of “Gaga” echoing through the shot. The chanting ends with the Lady herself chanting “Gaga.” The message is clear: when you’re famous, everybody wants a piece of you and you can either be an active participant in the fame, or you can watch yourself destruct.

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5 Tips (&10 Apps) to Achieving Your Goals

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Originally published on The Erriah Group's blog in January 2014. The Erriah Group was a startup consultancy that I worked for.

“Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, vision with action can change the world” – Nelson Mandela.

New year, new you? Every year, people have optimistic and often naive expectations of the person that they will become at the dawn of a new year. Gyms see dozens of “resolutioners” in January, most of whom fall off track by March. The solution to keeping your resolution? Try these tips and apps to keep you on track:

 The solution to keeping your resolution? Try these tips and apps to keep you on track:

  1. Keep it simple and attainable. If your resolution list extends beyond 5 – 10 goals, you may become overwhelmed and lose focus. Try writing down several of your most important goals and make a separate list of “backburner” goals to revisit later.
     
  2. Make a plan to achieve your goal. Think about what you want to achieve and then work backwards to figure out the steps you need to take to get you there. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, think about the lifestyle changes that will help you meet your goal (finding an exercise routine that doesn’t bore you, drinking a lot of water, seeing a nutritionist- which, by the way, might be completely covered under your health insurance).
     
  3. Hold yourself accountable. Goals without action and accountability are abstract. If you are trying to clean up your sailor mouth, keep a swear jar and put money in it every time you curse (note - the money should go to a charity or family member – you shouldn’t reward bad behavior!). If you are trying to lose 20 pounds by July, set incremental deadlines to keep you on track (lose 3 pounds by February 8th, etc). Write your deadlines on a calendar, set reminders in your phone, etc. If possible, find a friend with similar goals – teamwork makes the dream work.
     
  4. Believe in yourself. It sounds super cheesy but if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? A positive attitude goes a long way. Negativity and doubt will make you become a self fulfilling prophecy.
     
  5. There’s an app for that. Utilize technology to help make your resolutions a reality.
  • GOAL TRACKING:
    • LittleBit - LittleBit is a goal-setting app that encourages you to complete small and simple tasks every day until they become a habit. This app is currently only available for Apple products; currently on sale for $1.99 and normally priced at $2.99
    • Refuse to pay for apps? Try the Way of Life  or Everest apps for free.
  • SAVE MONEY:
    • Mint – Trying to be more financially responsible? Mint is an award winning app that connects to your accounts and gives you detailed and categorized itemization on what you are spending money on. With a simple click you can view all of your transactions for “Gas & Fuel,” “Shopping,” “Grocery,” etc. This free app is accessible on your computer and available for mobile on Apple devices, Android devices, and Windows 8 tablets.
  • QUIT SMOKING:
    • Quit Pro: Your Smoking Cessation Coach - Quit Pro helps smokers to understand why they light up and when by having the user track every cigarette smoked and when they had a craving. The app helps users identify when they experience maximum temptation. This free app is available on Apple and Android devices.
  • EXERCISE:
    • Moves - Using GPS and your device’s accelerometer, your running, jogging, and cycling are tracked without the need for a separate pedometer. If you do have an iPhone 5s, you can also track all of your daily movement. Available for $2.99 on Apple and Android devices.
    • Argus – If you have an iPhone 5s, this comprehensive fitness app has received rave reviews. Utilizing the 5s’ M7 coprocessor and motion detection technology, this app includes a step tracker, calorie counter, GPS reader, food diary (including pictures), and much more. Available for the iPhone 5s for $1.99.
  • EAT HEALTHY:
    • Substitutions - This app offers alternatives for foods you’re trying to avoid. It also gives tips for ingredients you can swap while you’re cooking. Available on Apple devices for $.99. A similar app called Food Substitutes is available on Android for $.99.
    • EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry – EatingWell is a respected publication for smart and healthy foods. This app features hundreds of professionally written and tested recipes with full nutritional info. You can filter by category, main ingredient, and cook time. This free app is available on Apple and Android devices.
  • LEARN A LANGUAGE:
  • Duolingo – Named Apple’s iPhone app of the year in 2013, Duolingo currently offers 6 languages with the lessons mostly set up as games in which you can earn (and lose) experience points. This free app is available on Apple and Android devices as well as on your computer. Your progress in your account is stored on the cloud so you can pick up where you left off if you switch devices.

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7 Tips to Survive the Holidays

Originally published on The Erriah Group's blog in December of 2013. The Erriah Group was a consultancy startup that I worked for.

Communication is crucial to survive the rounds of holiday parties. Knowing when to bite your tongue is also key.

  1. Communicate about logistics. Make sure you know the time, place, and what to bring. You don’t want to step on someone’s cookie game when you were supposed to bring an app- unnecessary feuding that could have been avoided by a phone call.
  2. Avoid controversial topics. Politics and religion tend to be the biggest hot button issues, but you know your family best. If you feel yourself offending someone, apologize and move onto lighter conversation.
  3. Less is more. Not everything requires a response; try smiling and nodding politely. The old idiom “if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all” is a cliché for a reason.
  4. Have a few prepared topics. Have a few things to discuss at the ready that won’t stir controversy.
  5. Watch your buzz. By all means, have a drink but be careful that you don’t end up partaking in your own private drinking game (kid throws a tantrum: drink, Uncle Joe says something off-color: drink). Getting drunk could get ugly- those snarky responses to Uncle Joe you were holding back? Those are sure to come out. If you feel yourself getting too inebriated, grab something to eat, water, and coffee.
  6. Offer to help. Help clean, set the table, etc. Just do something!
  7. Say thank you. Communicate your gratitude to the host. If you’re the host, thank everyone for coming, especially if they brought something.

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